Legislating fairness: Those who rent storage space deserve compassion, too
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Mar 15, 2013 | 4055 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Storage-facility owners serve a purpose. They rent safe, secure space to people who might have too much stuff to keep at home or to those who have lost their homes and need a place to safely and securely store their remaining belongings.

These owners are in business to rent space. If renters do not pay, owners lose money, and if enough money is lost, the owners can no longer afford to provide this service as cheaply and efficiently as before.

Today in Alabama, if someone does not pay the rent on a self-storage facility, the law requires that the owner wait 30 days before taking any action. That is 30 days without income from the rent.

The owner then must let the delinquent renter know by certified mail that the storage facility will be opened and the contents auctioned off if the rent is not paid in another 30 days.

Additionally, some of those who rent self-storage areas are in financial difficulties and simply don’t have the money; in other words, they’d pay their rent if they could. Consumer advocates report few cases concerning storage facilities, however, they do occur as people try to stop the sale of their possessions.

Despite what you may see on A&E’s reality show, Storage Wars, the owner seldom gets much for the abandoned content. So the owner is out rent, the cost of notifying the renter and the cost of advertising the auction.

Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, has introduced a bill that would make it easier for owners to regain control of their facilities by shortening the initial waiting period to 15 days and allowing notification by e-mail.

Given the expense incurred by these business owners, this seems a reasonable adjustment in the law.

However, the Alabama Self-Storage Association, which has lobbied for this bill, should also lobby its members not to forget the human factor. When there is an obvious case of someone who is unable to pay the rent because of financial difficulties, the owner should work with the renter to find a solution. And if the owner loses money in the process, a tax-deduction under “charity” would not be out of order.
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